This week’s poem sets us in a high-summer lake – and among the swarming greenhead flies that sometimes plague swimmers. I love how Mark Melnicove’s succinct description and dialogue drive both the story and the swim along, in this quietly wry, Zen-like little anecdote of forbearance.

A recipient of PEN’s New England Discovery Award, Melnicove is author of two ekphrastic poetry collections – “Sometimes Times” (Two Palms Press, 2017), with printmaker Terry Winters, and “Ghosts” (Cedar Grove House, 2018), with painter Abby Shahn. He is co-author of “Africa is Not a Country” (2001 Africana Book Award winner). 

Crawling with Uncle D

By Mark Melnicove

Uncle D, the dermatologist,
and I were swimming in the pond, green heads
attacking us. I swatted and discharged as many
as I could, as quickly as possible.
Uncle D kept his head down and ploughed onward with
his crawl, letting them have at him. “Watch out,
Uncle D,” I shouted. “They’re feasting on your flesh!”

He stopped mid-stroke and turned to inspect the insects.
“They have to make a living, too,” he said.
“What about the welts their bites are leaving
on your skull, shoulders, and neck?” I asked.
“No doubt they will increase my empathy
for patients who are not unblemished,” he explained,
picking up with his crawl, outdistancing me.

Megan Grumbling is a poet and writer who lives in Portland. Deep Water: Maine Poems is produced in collaboration with the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance. “Crawling with Uncle D” copyright © 2020 by Mark Melnicove. It appears by permission of the author.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.